“Duplicity” by Ingrid Thoft is an informative and gripping novel about abuse. It brings back Fina Ludlow, an outcast in her own family, and a fighter for justice. It is very interesting how Thoft intertwines a murder mystery while having readers question organized religion and abuse. There are many similarities where people learn facts about a community or person; yet, choose to ignore it. These two seemingly unrelated plots come together as Fina must convince those who have this information and facts to act upon it. It is a wonderful story about what is right and wrong within the context of religion and life itself.
Thoft got the idea for the story in reading about “a Seattle Church that imploded. Although the Covenant Rising Church was Evangelical what was put forth in the book could be applied to any religion. I wondered what happens to people when the cornerstone of their experience doesn’t turn out to be what they thought. I am fascinated with the idea of mega churches where it is about faith, but also is about money and power, especially those personalities that rise to the top who are very charismatic.
I also thought of what happened in Penn State. So many people chose not to do anything because of money, position, and power. It blows my mind how people got this information and chose to ignore it. They did their minimal duty and had the attitude of washing their hands from it. It was as if they did not want to upset the apple cart.”
The story begins as Fina and her dad, the head attorney in the high-powered personal injury law firm, meet with his old flame, Ceci, who asks that they investigate the Covenant Rising Church. Ceci’s daughter wants to bequeath a large amount of expensive property to them. Fina finds the Church has a slick chauvinistic pastor whose wife has her own infidelities. In addition, both have suspiciously used the donations for luxury cars, a vacation home, and a fancy house. After a prominent Church member dies unexpectedly, one Fina was to meet with; she becomes more suspicious of the Church’s undertakings. The investigation uncovers misguided loyalties and questionable motivations. This is rivaled only by Fina’s own family problems, her abusive brother Rand, who she is trying to build a case against.
According to the author, “The common thread is where lots of people knew things, but did nothing about it. I questioned ‘at what moment do people speak up and say something is wrong?’ The dynamics of power, status, and social interaction influence how people make difficult decisions. You cannot always believe with blind faith and look the other way. We must keep our moral compass and allow dissent. Should you subvert your critical thinking to fit in or subvert your judgment?”
Fina is someone that not only stands up for herself, but also for those who she feels cannot speak for themselves. She has a strong sense of justice that spurs her to, at times, act above the law. She is independent, headstrong, focused, and loyal. Being a non-conformist, even within her own family sometimes makes her feel lonely and unaccepted. In this book she is not left in a good place as she tries to deal with family issues and why she prefers not settling down to a typical domestic life.
“Duplicity” delves with serious topics, but the banter between the characters and Fina’s sarcastic demeanor present a welcome release. Readers will question along with Fina the true meaning of faith and are given access to all the dynamics within her dysfunctional family. In addition the murder mystery is very riveting.